European Otter - Diet, Characteristics and Conservation

European otter: find out what this animal is like, its physical characteristics, character, behavior, etc. The European otter or European otter (Lutra lutra) is one of the...

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The European otter or European otter (Lutra lutra) is one of the most common mammals in European and Asian rivers. The fact that an otter chooses a watercourse to live there indicates that it is he althy, in terms of pollution, species and food. This elusive animal is not easy to spot because it is a nocturnal animal whose activity begins when ours ends.

In this PlanetAnimal file, we are going to talk in detail about the European otter and we will explain to you how and where it lives, what it feeds on, what is its reproductive cycle and many other curiosities about it. About!


  • Africa
  • Asia
  • Europe

Origin of the European otter

The European otter (Lutra lutra) is a type of mustelid native to Europe, North Africa and Asia. In the past, populations of this animal were widespread and thriving. Unfortunately, human activities in inland waters (the natural habitat of otters), such as damming, polluting discharges, deforestation of riparian forests, extraction of water from wetlands and groundwater , have wreaked havoc on the otter population, and the species is listed as near endangered, although in some places it is considered extinct.

Characteristics of the European Otter

Like all mustelids, the otter has an elongated body, a flattened head and a long tail, flattened at the base and pointed at the end.Its ears are small, hidden by its fur. Their legs are short, strong and suitable for swimming, as they have a membrane between their toes which helps them swim.

Their fur is waterproof, very dense and dark brown all over the body, except on the belly, where it lightens, becoming white below the neck. They are relatively large animals, measuring between 84 and 145 centimeters from head to tip of tail. They weigh between 4.4 and 6.5 kilograms.

European Otter Habitat

Otters prefer to live on the banks of crystal clear rivers, lined with thick vegetation where they can find their den. These dens are not built by the otters themselves, but take advantage of natural hollows in the ground, rocks or vegetation. In addition, the otter does not have a single den, inside its territory (about 15 kilometers for males and half for females) it has a multitude of shelters that it will monitor every a few nights.

The presence of European otters in rivers, streams, lagoons or marshes is a sign of their good he alth. Turbid, polluted or algal bloom rivers will be abandoned by otters. It is one of the main threats to the species.

European otter diet

As a carnivorous animal, otter teeth consist of 12 incisors, 4 canines, 14 premolars (8 upper and 6 lower) and 4 molars. The basis of their diet is fish, which they catch in the water and eat on the shore. When fish are scarce, otters may feed on crustaceans, amphibians, reptiles and even other mammals, birds or insects.

Their activity begins at nightfall. They emerge from their den and begin their routine by grooming themselves and rubbing their bodies against a rough surface.They then swim against the current, swimming against the current. At the end of their day (which is dawn), they return downstream to the previous night's burrow or any other burrow in their territory.

European otter reproduction

Unlike other species, when an otter reaches adulthood and is able to reproduce, it does so at any time of the year, the only prerequisite is that there have food available. During estrus, these animals become very aggressive and since they tend to remain in this state for most of their lives, it is not advisable to keep them as pets.

Otters are solitary except when looking for a mate or when a mother is with her cubs. During courtship, the pair of otters spend several days together, playing in the water and chasing each other on land. After copulation, the two animals separate and, after 9 weeks, the female will give birth to 2 or 3 young, blind at birth and totally dependent on their mother, with whom they will spend 6 to 8 months, until 'they become independent and start a solitary life.

Photos of European Otter

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